Toyota: “Reckless to focus only on electric cars”. And Minister Cingolani agrees

There seems to be a substantial alignment from le Toyota positions, the most important builder in the world, and those of Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani. Indeed, the Japanese auto giant in order to decarbonising mobility and pursue an economically and socially sustainable energy transition, he reiterated once again the will to focus on all the technologies available today and not to focus exclusively on that of battery electric cars.

“It’s too early to focus on just one option,” confirmed the company’s vice president, Shigeki Terashi, during a shareholders’ meeting, underlining the importance of a “multi-technological” approach to the energy transition. For Toyota, in fact, low-emission endotherms and hybrids are not destined to be retired in the short term and will constitute an alternative to 100% electric models for at least another 30 years. Moreover, Toyota is among the very few manufacturers in the world to have at the same time thermal technology, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and hydrogen (fuel cell) technology, an element that the manufacturer is also using to power thermal engines.

Toyota’s approach appears against the tide compared to that of many other manufacturers, which have set the definitive stop to all other technologies other than battery electric already over the next two or three decades. For the Japanese, however, all low environmental impact solutions are useful for the environmental cause and the market preferences (which today rewards hybrids and low-emission thermals). “Some people love battery electric vehicles, but others don’t find current technologies convenient. In the end, what matters is what customers choose, ”he stressed Masahiko Maeda, chief technology officer of the company.

Not to mention that for Toyota (and not only) they remain on the table a series of doubts about the ecological benefits of electric cars, incorrectly indicated as a “zero emissions” vehicle. For the multinational, however, to evaluate the real environmental impact of a car it is necessary to consider all phases concerning the life of the product, from her construction – includingrare earth extraction necessary for the production of accumulators – allo disposal. “We are choosing to look at the whole life cycle”, Ha chiarito Terashi.

Positions reminiscent of those of the Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, which focuses on pragmatism: “The ecological transition it must be right: we must not leave anyone behind. We must take care of those who will not be able to switch to electric cars anyway and we must help them convert to a much more ecological vehicle than the old Euro 0 or Euro 1. Already a switch to a new Euro 6 car, which pollutes less at this time gives a very strong impetus to decarbonisation“. This without detracting from the route traced, which is to “accelerate electrification and penetration of electric and hybrid cars in the market“. But to achieve this goal, according to Cingolani, it is necessary “to increase the demand and supply not only of machines, but also ofcharging infrastructure, which does not only mean the columns but also ‘a smart network‘”.

However, according to the Minister, much can be done by rejuvenating the current fleet: “In Italy we have a fleet of private cars of about 30 million cars”, says Professor Cingolani. “A dozen millions, perhaps even more, are highly polluting cars, namely Euro 0, Euro 1 and Euro 2. Let’s face it: not everyone has the opportunity to change their car every four years. Many keep it for a long time and then it becomes old and polluting ”.

Ultimately, “it is clear that the electric transition is necessary and that everyone, tomorrow, would like to go with electric vehicles”, continued the Minister of Ecological Transition. “But I would like to mention that at this time a segment B family electric vehicle costs almost twice as much as an internal combustion vehicle. So let’s see where we start from. Today we have 10-12 million highly polluting cars: at this moment, their transition to Euro 6 already gives a strong impetus to decarbonisation“. Therefore, for Cingolani, “who today owns a Euro 1 diesel car, buying a Euro 6 diesel car gets a great improvement. The transition to electricity will certainly last about ten years and there will be some transitory solutions ”.

Concepts, those of the Minister, which had already been exposed by the same during a webinar dedicated to mobility: “We must be realistic, the ecological transition does not happen in an instant”And“ we can’t tell families’ from tomorrow you all buy Tesla ”. An issue that is also linked to infrastructure: “Even if we had all-electric vehicles from tomorrow, we would not know where to recharge them. The sacrosanct objective of the progressive and definitive electrification of transport must be pursued with a concrete and practical approach that takes into account social sustainability, the increase in costs for families and the technological challenge. The goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 requires a mix of realism and a technological bet on the future ”.

It should be emphasized, then, that the Minister, unlike many manufacturers, does not believe only in battery-powered electric cars but also in those equipped with a fuel cell: “We must proceed with the electrification of the car park and getting the hydrogen-powered car off the ground. The PNRR, however, does not work miracles: on a cultural level, for example, we see too many cars circulating on the street with a single passenger, the driver, and this is a problem ”.

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